Games

Published on July 14th, 2017 | by Guest

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A parent’s guide to the risks of Pokémon Go

Mobile games like Pokémon Go are proving popular with children, but what are the risks involved and how can you ensure your child is safe?

Technology is a huge part of life for children nowadays. By the age of 8, 96% of children have watched television, 90% have used a computer, 81% have played console-based video games and 60% have played on games and apps through portable devices like tablets and smartphones.

Pokémon Go is one such mobile game. After its release last summer, Pokémon Go took the world by storm and has since been downloaded over 650 million times. Now, with reports of new updates and events looking to create another surge in popularity, it’s important to remind ourselves of the safety risks involved.

The risks of Pokémon Go

In order to gain awareness of mobile gaming risks, parents should make the effort to understand the game itself and turn it into a shared experience.

What is Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is one of the first mobile games to use an augmented reality system. This means the game gives the illusion of Pokémon appearing in real places. There are many factors to the game, so what should you be aware of?

Pokémon

Pokémon are creatures that appear in public places for players to ‘catch’. They have different appearances, elemental types and moves. The aim is to capture all the Pokémon, beat gyms and be labelled a ‘Pokémon Master’.

Pokémon Gyms

Pokémon Gyms are places where players can battle their Pokémon against others. They are labelled in the game through a Google-style Maps system, and can be public places like parks, churches or monuments. If successful, players claim the gym until another player travels to the spot and beats them.

Poké Ball

Poké Balls are devices used to catch Pokémon. Like gyms, real life locations are labelled as PokéStops, where players can replenish their Poké Balls.

Pokédex

This is the device which keeps a record of all the Pokémon the player has caught. The aim is to fill it completely.

What are the main risks?

Meeting people

The game encourages players to go out and interact with others in an attempt to bring people together. Of course, this can encourage talking to strangers.

Spending money

Players can make in-app purchases in Pokémon Go, costing up to £79.99!

Access to personal data

Players need to give their birth date and email address in order to play. They can even link the game to any social media accounts they may have, which obviously contain a wealth of personal details.

Physical dangers

Since the game encourages actual travelling and movement from players, there are physical risks involved such as getting lost, not paying attention to road safety or being lured into places which aren’t safe for children.

How can you keep your child safe?

Pokémon Go encourages friendship, fresh air and exercise. If your child loves it then you’re unlikely to want to forbid it altogether, so how can you ensure your child is playing safely?

Turn off in-app purchasing

It is possible to avoid hefty in-app purchases by changing the settings on your child’s device. Make sure ‘Ask to Buy’ is switched on so you have final say on any spending.

Protect personal data

You can request that your child’s personal details are kept safe by contacting the creators directly. Details of how to do this are in the game’s Privacy Agreement.

Explore together

Exploration can be fun, but exploring alone can be dangerous for children. Make Pokémon Go a game you use together to hunt for Pokémon. It can be a great bonding exercise.

Set some ground rules

Your child should inform you of where they are at all times. They should also take a battery pack out with them so they don’t lose phone power, and encourage them to stay with friends. You could even explore GPS options for your child through wearable tech, as this can give you peace of mind.

 

At Kids Smartwatches, we’re parents too. Visit www.kidssmartwatches.co.uk today for more information on all things child safety and some of the best tech on the market to help you protect kids in the 21st century.

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